The Snow Man

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

-Wallace Stevens

Lately, I'm feeling very unanchored and far away from the world.

So now for a total change of subject and tone: I tried Fage yogurt for the first time this morning. Supposedly, this is the best yogurt ever made, etc., etc., according to the Whole Foods crowd. It did taste pretty good, but it also made the back of my throat burn - I don't think yogurt is supposed to do that. I suppose I do not recommend.

I do recommend, however, The Stolen Child and Our Lady of the Forest (which no one else seems to like), because I've been on a binge of reading fiction that should be on Oprah's Book Club. To atone, I'm now reading The Birth of the Modern and How To Read a Poem, so expect lots of poems in the days ahead.


Da Vinci Code

So for the first time since I got pregnant, I've actually had enough energy to do things other than take naps this week. To celebrate, B and I took our first outing in close to two month to go see The Da Vinci Code at the Alamo last night. I have four comments:

1. If you haven't tried the chicken strips at Alamo Drafthouse, you are seriously missing out. All of the food is excellent, but the chicken strips outshone anything I have ever had. Or maybe it was just the contrast between them and the stale saltine crackers which have made up the majority of my diet recently. Who knows.

2. Remember when you went to see the third installment of LOTR? Remember how your butt started hurting after awhile? And remember how you kept thinking you had got to the end of the movie, cause you had already passed the climax and there was movie-end type music playing, but then it started up again? Like six times? Ok, same thing with Da Vinci Code. That is a LONG movie.

3. This movie would be a lot more watchable if Tom Hanks didn't have long, greasy, child-molester hair. Or maybe that's just me.

4. The movie was reasonably good, very action-packed, and closely followed the book. But most importantly, the first half took place in Paris, so every few minutes I got to poke Brandon and whisper "Hey, I've been there!"


Mighty fine stir-fry and a butterfly

Make the marinade: 3 parts soy sauce, 2 parts rice wine, 1 part grated fresh ginger, and a little bit of cornstarch just for fun.

Add to a bunch of sliced up chicken and stick in the fridge for awhile.

Then cook it up in a wok with some sesame oil.

Add some 'steam-in-the-bag' stir-fry veggies (my latest favorite product) and rice, and eat it up.

And now for a butterfly that flew too high and landed on my 5th floor ledge:


My CondiList

From Jill, of course. All favorites subject to daily and even hourly changes. However, the ten songs below are ones I have never skipped past when they came on my iPod. They are always appropriate to any occasion. Unless the occasion is when my grandma is visiting, and then at least one might not be quite so appropriate. (Sorry, Granny! Hi! Love you! I'm glad you're reading my blog!)

1. Romeo and Juliet by Dire Straits
2. Her First Mistake by Lyle Lovett
3. Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush
4. Cinnamon Park by Jill Sobule
5. Never is a Promise by Fiona Apple
6. A Boy Named Sue by Johnny Cash
7. The Ship Song by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
8. Glory Box by Portishead
9. Earthbound by Rodney Crowell
10. Morning Glory by The Subdudes

Honorable mention goes to Allison Crowe's cover of Hallelujah, which I heard for the first time a few weeks ago, and which gives me even more chills than the original. Incredibly, you can listen to and download the ENTIRE SONG from Allison Crowe's website.


Digital libraries

Here is a great article on the possible futures of libraries and books.



1. Last Friday, the University of Texas Press held a tent sale on the side of the highway. It was the end of our very busy close week, and my boss did not want anyone to leave work but, as I kept pointing out, the flyer said up to 90% off! In the end, I and two other people made a rather quick pilgrimage in the afternoon and returned with three large bags of books, including this, which I have already read cover to cover:

2. One reason that being pregnant isn't much fun: I am miserably sick, but I can't take any medicine, at least not anything good. It started last week with a runny nose and watery eyes, and I thought I had allergies. Then it progressed into a full-on head cold, and now it has invaded my chest. I have been denied the sweet relief of Nyqil, and can only carry around my precious bottle of Vicks Vaporub.

3. This morning at my doctor's appointment, I heard the baby's heartbeat for the first time and it made all the misery of the last several weeks totally worth it.



Slate is featuring an interactive essay about the legacy of Chernobyl on their Today's Pictures page. The accident happened a few days before my 4th birthday, so I only know it as a history lesson. Until watching this, it was only one of a string of dates and events in the Cold War in my mind.

It also reminded me of a site I saw a few years ago (don't know where - did I get this from you, Felix?) chronicling a woman's bike trip through the dead zone.

Boy, I'm cheerful lately, huh?


Memorial to a tree

When we moved in, I didn't notice the tree at all because it was winter and the tree was bare. In February, the tree budded with beautiful, creamy, yellow and pale green leaves. Surprisingly, I couldn't find a picture in my Neil Sperry book (the bible of Texas gardening), but from internet research I thought it might be a variegated ligustrum bush that had been carefully grown as a many-trunked tree. In March, the tree was very leafy and full. I noticed how it nicely wrapped around the stone corner of the garage and made a shady place for some white wildflowers to grow. I imagined myself planting tulips or daffodils next to the wildflowers next spring. In April, the tree budded all over with miniscule white flowers. A few weekends ago I mentioned to B that I thought the tree was one of the most beautiful things about our new house, and how it made me happy every time I walked out of the garage and saw it.

Last week, a huge storm broke all but two of the tree's trunks. Of the two trunks remaining, one is rather weak, and the other turned out to be dead, hidden among the abundant foliage of the other branches. When we can, we will have to chop down the remaining trunk and dig the stump out of the ground. I am very unhappy about the state of affairs in general, and that I didn't take a picture of the tree before it fell. This does not seem to bode well for our future gardening endeavors.


Two random, unrelated pictures

This is Bella, the evil feline. Doesn't she look evil? Usually, she's much fluffier, but she made the mistake of wandering into the downstairs bathroom this weekend while we were spiffing up Sebastian's mohawk, and really, who could resist trying to shave a cat?

This is a plant near the elevator at my work. Doesn't it look like something on one of the fake alien worlds on the original Star Trek? I keep expecting a big-breasted alien woman to pop out from behind it with a phaser.


Random notes

1. I'm don't remember what I dreamed about last night, but I woke up with the insistent thought that post-apocalyptic America won't smell very good.

2. Remember a few weeks ago when I claimed to have learned about the importance of wearing pants while weedeating? I was lying. I did it without pants again on Sunday, and now have a pair of bruised and bloody legs to show for it. Damn rocks.

3. I just finished Mark Helprin's Winter's Tale, which is a feat at 688 very dense pages. I finally figured out this morning that the writing style is a bizarre combination of 100 Years of Solitude and a Dickens novel. It is obvious from the beginning that the story is an allegory, but I never did get it. I can see parts at a time, but I can't fit the whole thing together.

4. I have recently discovered how important gender is to people. Everyone who knows I'm pregnant asks if I want a boy or girl, and what B wants. I have also heard every crazy crackpot theory about how to tell. People want to dangle strings over my belly, want to know my birthday so they can look it up on astrology charts, want to know how sick I am (very), want to know how much weight I've gained (none, thanks to being sick all the time), and do I think my nose has changed shape. Of course I'm curious, but I'm perfectly happy to wait another 6 weeks or so to find out, and I wish everyone else was also. Or maybe I'm just cranky. I bet B would say so...

5. I have started to ponder how my child and my friends' children will rebel when they are teenagers. If your mom has a couple tattoos and a nose ring, what else is there to do? Maybe dress like your grandma?


Meme, baby

It's all Jill's fault.

Accent: None. People sometimes ask me if I'’m from up north, so I take that to mean that I have no southern accent. I think this is because my mom grew up in Oklahoma and said things like '‘worsh'’ for '‘wash'’ and it drove me crazy enough that I paid a great deal of attention to the way I spoke. I do, however, say 'y'all' and 'fixin to'.

Booze: I ha’ve never been a big drinker. The only alcoholic beverage I actually like is Bailey'’s, but now I can'’t even have that.

Chore I Hate: Vacuuming. I hate it so much that our new house only has three little-used rooms with carpet. And I still refuse to vacuum them.

Dog or Cat: I have both, but I am a dog person. This could be because our cat has been said by many to be a physical incarnation of the devil.

Essential Electronics: My iPod. It has been semi-permanently attached to my head for something like two beautiful years now. I can'’t even imagine life without it.

Favorite Cologne: None, they all smell like chemicals to me

Gold or Silver: Silver

Hometown: Garland, TX

Insomnia: Frequently

Job Title: Corporate Accountant

Kids: One, very small, currently of indeterminate gender

Living Arrangements: I live in a very tall, crooked, aerie with B, Sebastian, Monster, and Bella the Evil Feline

Most Admirable Traits: Sense of humor

Number of States Lived In: One - I'’m a Texas Lifer

Overnight Hospital Stays: Zero

Phobias: Belly buttons and Charleton Heston. I'’m entirely serious.

Quote: "I could kick your ass, you know"

Religion: Google is my religion. Google knows all.

Siblings: One sister, two step-sisters, one step-brother, three brother-in-laws, one soon-to-be brother-in-law

Time I Wake Up: 5:48, 5:50, 5:59, 6:08, 6:17, 6:26

Unusual Talent or Skill: I am the champion bamboo grower. And I can flip my eyelids inside out. And I can make all kinds of kick-ass origami.

Vegetable I Love: Mmm, I love me some spinach.

Worst Habit: Not following through on things

X-rays: Once, when I was little and went head-first over my bike handlebars and was knocked unconscious. It turns out that I have an extraordinarily indestructible head.

Yummy Foods I Make: Chicken tortilla soup, of my own made-up recipe.

Zodiac Sign: Virgo (I totally fit the stereotype, too)